RV Days, Issue #011– Sleeping Rainbows

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RV Days, Issue #011– Sleeping Rainbows
August 04, 2006
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RV Days, Issue #011– Sleeping Rainbows
August 4, 2006

In this Issue:

  • Around the House
  • A Change in Plans
  • On Top of the World
  • You Do that Hoodoo…
  • An All-American Road
  • A Fruitful Stay

Around the House:

We have just left Capital Reef National Park, an area the Navajo call the “Land of the Sleeping Rainbow”. We found ourselves amazed once again with the colors of southern Utah. In fact, the entire past month has been like a trip somewhere over the rainbow…everywhere we go around the Grand Circle of parks we are fascinated with the varied hues and magical natural formations. This issue highlights some of these awesome places.

Around the house, we washed the rig again. We stocked up on supplies in St. George, while we had access to the big stores like Wal-Mart and Costco – especially since we knew we would be in some rural areas and would be doing some boondocking in the coming weeks.

And Jose finished one of his projects – installing a supplemental brake system. When we purchased a Saturn as our tow car last year, we wanted to get a new supplemental brake system. Jose started with some research and comparison of various products before making the purchase. Since we previously had a supplemental brake system, he knew which features were most important. Read more about choosing and installing our towed vehicle supplemental brake system.

A Change in Plans:

Our plan after leaving Lake Powell had been to go to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. However, at the time, there was a big fire in the North Kaibab National Forest, and so we had to change our plans. As things turned out, we uncovered some interesting sights as we traveled west on Route 89 along the southern edge of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. It’s the unplanned surprises that keeps things interesting – and in this case, very colorful. We even got to hike to The Wave!

On Top of the World:

While visiting Zion National Park, we stayed at one of our membership parks in the nearby town of Hurricane. This was a good base for exploring the area.

A few words about the approach to the park. There are large vehicle restrictions if approaching on Route 9 from the east. The Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel between the East Entrance and the park was built in the 1920s when cars were small and few in number. Vehicles sized 7′ 10″ wide, or 11′ 4″ high, or larger, are required to have an escort (traffic control) through the tunnel, since they will not be able to stay in their lane. The traffic in the other direction is stopped so that the large vehicles can make their way through in the center of the road.

Nearly all RV’s, buses, trailers, 5th wheels, and some camper shells will require this traffic control. There is a fee for this escort service, which can be paid at either park entrance in season. We didn’t come through the tunnel in our rig. Instead we traveled west on Route 389 to our RV park in Hurricane.

But enough about getting there. We were in the Zion area for three weeks. Among our hikes in Zion, Jose made the climb to the top of Angels Landing. Jill’s fear of heights won out at the sight of this harrowing ridgeline. But we both made the climb to Hidden Canyon (chains included). And the cool and lofty elevations at nearby Cedar Breaks were a welcome change from summer heat. Read more.

You Do that Hoodoo…:

Bryce National Park was another adventure in amazing scenery.
A good first stop is the Visitor Center (elevation 7894 ft.). You could make this stop later in your visit, but if you see the film and museum first, you’ll know what features to look for when hiking or touring around the park. And if you have kids traveling with you, be sure to get them involved in the Junior Ranger program at the start of your visit.

Our bottom line on seeing the park? Allow enough time to do the Scenic Drive at a leisurely pace, and in the right direction. And if you are able to do some hiking into the canyon, do get out on your feet to see the magical hoodoos up close and personal.
More thoughts on what to see and campground options.

An All-American Road:

Scenic Byway 12 winds along the northern border of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Designated as an “All-American Road”, it is a beautiful drive with some interesting places to explore. We spent a couple nights boondocking along the way, so we could see some of the area’s sights.

Our first stop was at the Cannonville Visitors Center, where we got some advice about places to boondock and a permit to overnight along Scenic Byway 12 or the Burr Trail. We found a place to overnight just off Highway 12 with a great view of the Aquarius Plateau, and that was convenient to Kodachrome Basin State Park and the unique double Grosvenor Arch.

From a boondocking perspective, we also planned ahead to use the pay showers at Kodachrome State Park after a day of hiking.

Further along Scenic Byway 12, we stopped at the Escalante Visitors Center. In addition to viewing the exhibits here, we also got a specific suggestion on where we could boondock: about 6 miles down Burr Trail.

Once situated in this boondocking spot, we took the car on a drive down fascinating Burr Trail.

We went down the paved section from Boulder (30 miles or so) and continued on graded dirt down to the bottom of the impressive switchbacks. It was time well spent. The first several miles are picturesque farmland. Then you drive into dramatic Long Canyon, and soon after, you will come across great views of the Waterpocket Fold.

By the way, the drive on Scenic Byway 12 from Escalante to Boulder and then on to Torrey has some awesome views along the way. Some pullouts are suitable for an RV, but use care if you choose to take a peek. The road winds through part of the Dixie National Forest and across Boulder Mountain. The road has sections with long climbs and descents, at an 8% grade or more.
More on this making this drive.

A Fruitful Stay:

Capitol Reef National Park in Utah is on the northern edge of the Grand Circle of National Parks. Somewhat remote, and perhaps not as well known as some of the other parks, it encompasses a 100-mile natural upheaval in the earth’s crust known as the Waterpocket Fold.
The Navajo call the area the Land of the Sleeping Rainbow, an accurate depiction of the many hues of the landscape of Capitol Reef. The “capitol” comes from the white domes of Navajo sandstone that resemble capitol building rotundas, and the “reef” comes from the rocky cliffs that are a barrier to travel, like coral reefs.

We enjoyed our visit – in fact, we had a “fruitful” stay:

For one, we enjoyed the remnants of the 1880 Mormon settlement of Fruita. There is a restored one-room schoolhouse and a blacksmith shop. The historic Gifford homestead displays period furnishings and has a shop that sells handmade items and delicious homemade pie and ice cream. The day we went, they had apple, peach, blackberry and cherry pie – don’t miss this fruity treat!

We went peach picking in the Fruita orchards. Now owned and maintained by the National Park Service, the Fruita orchards are the most obvious signs of the former pioneer settlement. They hold approximately 2700 trees – apple, peach, pear, apricot and cherry, and a few plum, walnut, mulberry and almond trees. During picking season, you can stroll through the orchards and eat as much ripe fruit as you want. A reasonable fee is charged for fruit picked and removed from the orchards, which helps offset the cost of maintaining this historic landscape.

We stayed at the Fruita campground, a lovely and shady campground with restrooms, grills, trash receptacles, picnic tables and an amphitheater. There is a dump station and water, no hook-ups. As of Aug 2006, the nightly fee was $10 for a site, available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Deer pay a visit throughout the day, as do the non-native, but very interesting and attractive birds called Chukars.

And beyond fruit, we hiked to a fantastic 360-degree view in this Land of the Sleeping Rainbow.

Perhaps you can relate to this famous quote by Malcolm Forbes: “The biggest mistake people make in Life is NOT making a living at what they most enjoy.” Perhaps you feel stuck in a job you hate or wish you could spend your time doing something more meaningful. Many people spend a lot of time saying “if only I could do…” or “what if …”.

Sound at all familiar? Check out this bulleting board of real life people for some motivation to turn the “what if’s” into reality. We love this collage of ideas and successes…including Ken’s own daughter who started at 14 years of age. See how they found their special prize.

Short on time? Here is the abbreviated rundown.

Sell a used RV, and have it listed on over 35 partner sites. You can post multiple pictures. Or search for an RV to buy – search by RV class or make! See the selection of RV Classifieds.

Audubon Field Guides are a popular aid to identifying flora and fauna. We have seen more than one forest ranger pull them out of their pocket or backpack – endorsement enough for us. These handy guides come in versions for a particular geographic region and/or specific to trees, wildflowers, birds, etc. They make any nature trail more interesting to explore.

Stay tuned – Hiker Happy is coming to visit our house!! Learn more about our special guest and his pals.

NEW! You can add our site updates to your “My Yahoo” page (or My MSN or Google home page), or add our feed to your RSS reader. Here’s how.

Until next time, hoping you Put a Smile in Every Mile!

Jose and Jill

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